BY JACQUELINE CHARLES for Miami Herald/ The original text appears here.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit Monday upheld a district court’s ruling that two Haitian-American businessmen convicted of conspiring to pay millions of dollars in bribes to Haitian government officials, including the aide to a prime minister, for an $84 million port in northwest Haiti, should get new trials.
Dr. Joseph Baptiste, a Maryland dentist and retired Haitian-American U.S. Army colonel, and Roger Richard Boncy, a former Haitian ambassador-at-large, were both found guilty in June 2019 of participating in the scheme. Though they each had their own lawyers, they were tried jointly. After the jury rendered its verdict, both cited Baptiste’s ineffective defense from his counsel and sought acquittals or at the very least a new trial each.
Massachusetts U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs agreed to a new trial. The U.S. government, which had claimed that both men solicited money from undercover agents and promised to funnel it to Haitian bureaucrats through Baptiste’s charity, appealed Burroughs’ decision and wanted the convictions to stand. Jurors had convicted both of men of conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the Travel Act. Baptiste was also convicted of conspiracy to commit money laundering and an additional Travel Act violation, while Boncy was cleared of the two counts.Continue reading